Give praise for this award-winning hotel
ANNETTE LORD spends the night at Gothic Cedar Manor and discovers what the Windermere area has to offer
WITH its arched windows and stained glass panels, Cedar Manor Hotel has a hint of church splendour among its secular delights.
And it just adds to the charm of this mid-19th century Lakeland house nestled into a quiet corner just off the main Ambleside road in Windermere.
I’m here for an overnight stop to remind myself of what this part of the Lake District has to offer. Despite being just a two-hour drive from Manchester, I confess I don’t get to this part of the world as much as I should.
As I turn in through the gates of Cedar Manor, I am greeted by a giant old cedar dominating the small garden, and owners Jonathan and Caroline Kaye, who show me round.
This luxury boutique hotel started life as a private house in the 1850s when Gothic style was all the rage – hence the church windows and stained glass. Although much of it was taken out in the 1920s, Jonathan and Caroline have kept the small panels that remain and incorporated them into their homely, yet upmarket, modern residence.
Currently named Best Small Hotel in Cumbria, Cedar Manor was also recently highlycommended in the same category at the Visit England Awards – putting it in the country’s top six – so it is an approach that is obviously paying off.
For extra luxury, there’s also a detached Coach House Suite in the grounds – complete with super kingsize bedroom and a double spa airbath.
Local produce is a feature here, and it doesn’t stop at Lakeland tea and the potted Morecambe Bay shrimps on the light bites menu.
The furniture is made bespoke locally, the well-stocked bar has Hawkshead beer and Lakes-produced gin, jewellery by local artists is on sale and much of the food served in the restaurant is from local suppliers.
Jonathan and Caroline are also proud of their eco-friendly status and efforts to be part of the local community.
The 10 bedrooms are not numbered, instead they are named after the hills on view out of the window – a nice touch which Caroline and Jonathan retained from the previous owners when they took over the hotel eight years ago.
I am in ‘Coniston’, which as you might have guessed is accompanied by a glorious view.
It is just the push I need to leave the comfort of Cedar Manor behind and get some fresh air.
As well as being just a few minutes’ walk from the centre of Windermere, this is also a good spot for some small-scale exploring. A pleasant path from outside the hotel entrance takes visitors to the woods of Miller Ground and on to the lakeshore in a 15-minute stroll.
But first I head in the opposite direction and tackle Orrest Head, climbing up the winding path to the vantage point with its spectacular – and on this breezy day, bracing – panorama of lakes and hills.
Back at Cedar Manor, I have time to relax before dinner and I go downstairs to discover it is backgammon night. Jonathan plays the game and so one night a week locals take over the welcome lounge for a few hours of competition and friendly banter. The hotel also hosts the Lake District backgammon championships every year.
The restaurant has been awarded two AA rosettes for culinary excellence, so I am seemingly in good hands, and my meal doesn’t disappoint.
I go for cock-a-leekie terrine with prune puree and marinated steak kebab with spicy wedges and pizzaiola sauce, although I could just as easily have plumped for the honey and marsala glazed pork fillets or the aromatic salmon with pilaf rice and ginger.
A couple of glasses of red wine from the extensive wine list and it’s time for me to slip between the Egyptian white cotton sheets in room Coniston and wonder what tomorrow will bring.
At breakfast I am greeted by a fresh rose on the table and a selection of homemade jams among the varied cereals and pastries.
Then, before I say goodbye to Jonathan and Caroline, it’s time to explore and I head north for the short drive to Grasmere to check out the Heaton Cooper Studio, which is named after a family of artists and is still family-run. As well as permanent and temporary exhibition space, the gallery also doubles up as a bookshop and art shop with a range of art materials.
Also on my list was Rydal Mount which, although not as famous as nearby Dove Cottage, was the home of William Wordsworth for almost 40 years. Open to the public, the house still contains much original furniture and the gardens were landscaped by Wordsworth himself, remaining largely unchanged.
As this year is the 200th anniversary of his poem Daffodils, this seemed a fitting end to my journey.
●● View from Annette’s room, Coniston, toward the Old Man of Coniston
●● The splendour of the Cedar Manor Hotel, Windermere